Tonight We Are Watching Monkeys

You read that right. We just got both discs of Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp in the mailbox this afternoon and I am stoked.

It was a show that I caught on Nick @ Night yeeears ago and have been thinking about it periodically ever since. It's a spy comedy, sort of like Get Smart, only the cast consists entirely of... (wait for it)... (wait for it)... chimpanzees. Yeah.

I honestly thought I had invented this show in my head because I hadn't heard anything about it for years, but it was reviewed in Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago and I put at the top of the queue, like, immediately. So, I'm pretty excited right now. In fact I'm so excited that I'm posting a picture of the top banana himself, Big Red Robot style!.



A Random Panel From A Funny Comic Book

Here it it, just like it says. From the Scurvy Dogs: Rags To Riches TPB. It is comedy gold. Buy it... now.

Remember That Scene In Old Yeller...

When Yeller's got rabies and they've got to put him down and the one "Hey that's my dog!" kid is all crying and snot's all coming out of his nose and you sit there and despite of yourself you get a little teary-eyed because Yeller was such a pretty dog, such a good and nice dog, and now he has to die? Like this? Behind a shed all frothing and crazy? No dignity, no funeral, just a bullet and tears? Remember that? Geez, that was sad. Still, it's better to take such a beautiful creature out rather than let it suffer, right? RIght???

So, you may ask, where are you going with this? Well, I'm taking my other blog, The Wall Of Sound, out behind the woodshed. It will suffer no longer. It was a great idea but one that was just too impossible to even touch, especially at this point in my life, so, sorry fella. Look off into the sunset and think about chasing rabbits while I load this shotgun up. If I have anything music related, I'll just post about it here, only not right now because Ryan just posted a music post and I don't want to look like I'm copying him even though I really want to talk about Jonathan Richman's amazing I, Jonathan but that can wait. Anyway. I've got to go clean the gun.


This One's For Chris...

Was trolling Newsarama and gasped audibly when I read this headline. Holy smokes, this is exciting.

If they're anywhere near as gorgeous as Fantagraphic's Peanuts volumes are, then this will be a real treat. Anyway, I got all geeked out over it and had to share.

That is all. Go back to what you were doing.

We Are Never Gonna Survive

Unless we get a little crazy.

You Boyfriend Is Back And I'm Going To Be In Trouble!!!

Meet Martin.

He's 30. He likes heavy metal, Mad Max movies and books on tape. The last time he cried was during a laser light show set to the music of Sepultura. He's a pisces, which means he likes seafood? So my astrology's not so hot. Anyway, he owns a Dodge Dart with peeling paint and he'll be really sweet to you if you just go out with him. He'll make you a mixtape of speed metal and entitle it, "My Heart Beats Like a Double Kick Drum Only For You!!" He lives in a garage and has a waterbed and a blacklight poster of a skull. With flames. And a unicorn. On fire. He is hardcore but will love you forever and ever and will even let you wear his t-shirt that was signed by the one-armed drummer from Def Lepard even though, "they suck now." He will name you first child "Megadeth," if it's a boy and "Megabeth," if it's a girl. Say yes.


The Best 25¢ We've Ever Spent

Was on this little guy.

Got him from a vending machine at the video store last night. I am in love with it. Yeah, I'm weird. So what.


the San Diego Comic-Con's going on And a part of me is wishing I was there. Well, that I was there and had money to blow on copious amounts of comics, but I'm not and I don't so I have to made do with reports on Newsarama. So far, it's been rather uneventful, as far as big announcements go. DC's getting into the direct-to-DVD animation market with a adaptation of Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier, which looks pretty sweet.

Corey Lewis announced at the Oni panel (for those of you not in-the-loop, Oni Press is probably the most interesting publisher out there right now) that he's (finally) starting work on Sharknife 2: Double Z, which is a welcome announcement. Also at that panel comes a strange announcement. Rathr than trying to paraphrase it, I'll just copy and paste it:

The next image on the screen had the audience in question. All it said was "A great comic book…. Or the greatest comic book?"

Jones then introduced a video clip that would make it all clear. A November clip from the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, featuring the faux-news pundit talking about his fiction novel Stephen Colbert’s Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure. A re-occurring staple of Colbert's daily television show, its first appearance on the show in November set the Oni offices abuzz, and they set out to bring it to comics.

Details on the book itself remain under wraps due to the paperwork being signed just this week, Oni is said to have plans for a Spring 2007 launch.

uh, okay. Sounds hilarious. I'm pretty much there.

Lessee, what else? Marvel's publishing a "lost" Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four issue. Joe Casey's got an OGN and a new ongoing from Image. Then the yawns begin... Marvel's publishing another Bendis-written Avengers title. Jeph Loeb's doing an arc on Wolverine. Blahblahblah. My excitement in mainstrem superhero books dies a little bit more, etc. etc.

And... Oh yeah, this. Wow, just wow.

Anyway, so that's a mini-roundup of Comic-con for you, because our motto here at BRR is: "Big Red Robot; telling you stuff you didn't even care to know." And we stand by that motto.


Best. Mail. Day. Ever.

Got home after a hectic moring and afternoon. We had to pick up the car, which has been down in I.F. getting the starter replaced since Tuesday. I had to rush directly to school from there because I was meeting my friend Brandt to get the AIGA invites printed and I my BFA class met with Brother Franson, a.k.a.: "My Favorite Teacher, Like, Ever."

That went well, things are looking good for my project and we (finally, after much cajoling of the printer in the Spori building) got the invites printed. They look sweet.

Anyway, I got home at like 4pm after leaving home at 10:30am and was greeted by this beautiful sight:

I [heart] magazines. Wired looks cool this month. Colbert's on the cover, which pretty much sold me. Plus, there's this "How To" insert guide that looks pretty rad as well. Plus, I got my bimonthly fix of Readymade. Readymade, for those of you who haven't drank the Kool-Aid yet, is an awesome magazine. Their blog is pretty cool as well. It's sort of like a hip home-improvement magazine, though that description really doesn't do it justice. We also got our Entertainment Weekly. The Miami Vice cover story's not hooking me, but there's an interview with Luke Wilson that I'll definitely be reading, as I am totally "down" with the Wilson brothers for some weird reason. I also got this cool little activity book from Veer, which is a site that specializes in stuff for creatives (mainly typefaces, stock photos & illustration). All in all, not a bad haul.

Now if you'll excuse me, there are fajitas that are calling my name. Yum.


Putting the "Smart," In "Smart Playlist."

Okay, so I love iTunes' "Smart Playlist" feature. It's amazing that I can just type in a few parameters and, milliseconds later, - BAM! - a pretty rad pseudo-mixtape. I mean, look at this genius one it just spit out:

Title - Artist - Album
Tomorrow Tomorrow - Elliott Smith - XO
One Too Many Mornings - Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966, The Royal Albert Hall Concert
Tommy Gun - The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin') - Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Clark Gable - The Postal Service - Give Up
Empty Baseball Park - Whiskeytown - Faithless Street
Divine Hammer - The Breeders - Last Splash
America - Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
Fertile Crescent - Bad Religion - Generator
The Great Intoxication - David Byrne - Look Into The Eyeball
Holland, 1945 - Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Stewball - Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land
Barnyard - Brian Wilson - Smile
Cut Out Witch - Guided By Voices - Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Let's Play Clowns - Minus The Bear - They Make Beer Commercials Like This
Acrobat - U2 - Achtung Baby
Two Thousand Places - The Polyphonic Spree - Together We're Heavy
Elevate Me Later - Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Sweet Little Rock & Roller - Chuck Berry - The Great Twenty-Eight
Allison Krausse - The Stills - Logic Will Break Your Heart
Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle - Transcendental Blues
Untitled - R.E.M. - Green
Ruby Sees All - Cake - Motorcade Of Generosity
Sad & Beautiful World - Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
Starfield Road - Sonic Youth - Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star

Anyway, so there's that. It's not always foolproof. It'll sometimes repeat artists within a playlist, but with a little tweaking, it can spit out a pretty dang good mix. We're finally getting around to watching The New World tonight. Looks good.

Watched Million Dollar Baby the other night and man, was that movie depressing or what? Also, is it just me or is Clint Eastwood looking a lot like Skeletor these days? You Make the Call!

Or maybe Marv, from Frank Miller's Sin City? You Decide!

Recent Work

Been working on my BFA project quite a bit this week, which has been a lot of fun. I also had the assignment to head a group to develop invitations for our AIGA meeting on Collaboration next Wednesday. I came up with the idea to have various people develop little mini-posters for each letter of the organizations initials. Here's some I came up with.

The first one I produced was this one, for the letter "i." I took some images I have around and I came up with this smattering if "i"'s.

My first idea, though, was this one. I thought, "Hey, pirates are funny and minor tragedies are funny, so why not a tragic pirate?"

Next up was this one. I like it a lot and only worked on it for like, 20 minutes. Pretty impressive.

Finally, I took one of the signs I've made for my BFA store and cut it up. A little preview, I guess.

Anyway, so that's the fun stuff. Enjoy.


My Daughter

Carries this picture around sometimes:

"Chuck, A-Norris." Priceless.

What I've Been Reading (& What I Will Be Reading)

Okay, so I like to read. Here's what I've been reading lately:

Earlier this summer, thanks to BzzAgent, I received a free copy of Paul Reickoff's Chasing Ghosts. It's a first-hand account of the Iraq invasion from the p.o.v. of a foot-soldier and an interesting read for anybody interested in what's really going on "over there." I appreciate the fact that it's decidedly non-partisan, much like the the sobering documentary Why We Fight. As of right now, I'm more interested in some sort of discourse rather than the rhetoric-yelling that is becoming politics.

The Madison library had all five volumes of Cromartie High School, a manga (that's a Japanese comic book, for you non-nerds) that's been interesting me for a while because of its AMAZING covers. Seriously, look at these bad boys:

Too bad the book itself is just... not so good. It's a comedy manga, and I'm hoping that the humor just didn't translate because I didn't laugh once during the entire first volume I read. Still, those covers...

After that I read Everything Bad Is Good For You by Stephen Johnson. It's a look at the way that pop culture is evolving into a more complex and involving thing and how that complexity is making us, as a culture, smarter. I was a little disappointed that he totally (albeit deliberately) sidesteps the issue of content, but that's a whole other book, really. Similar in tone to Gerard Jones' Killing Monsters, which I also loved, it flies in the face of the alarmist "what about the kids?" critics who constantly criticize media at the expense of, in most instances, missing the point entirely. (Jones' Men Of Tomorrow is also a fascinating read - pick it up... NOW! What are you waiting for?!)

I also am in the middle of this one.

East of Eden is the only of Steinbeck's "big works," I've not read yet. Bryan got me this cool old hardcover as a gift years back and I haven't made time to crack it. I'm offseting it by reading shorter books now and then in-between sections of this - something I've never done, but have wanted to try. I'm too much the OCD person, eating every section of my plate in order, so I thought I'd rail against that compulsion for this book.

I just finished this book which, I must say, I recommend to everyone.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwwell. Or, as the subtitle says, "the power of thinking without thinking." It deals with snap judgements and how we make them, why we make them, when they work and when they fail. Seriously fascinating, I found myself saying, "whoa," at least once every time I picked it it. It's a short read and worth it. If you have a brain or are thinking of purchasing or leasing one, this is an invaluable resource for learning how to use it.

I'm in the middle of this charming little graphic novel:

Aaron Renier's Spiral Bound, a story of an elephant, a cat, a bird, a dog, a mouse and a monster. Look at that cover! How can you now want to read that? the spine also has this great little spiral with a pencil stuck in it with the title on it. Great package, and so far, afun, all-ages story that is that rarest of finds, a story that is cute without being cloying.

And next up, because I'm a total geek, I'll be hacking my way through this bad boy:

Volume 5 of Essential X-Men. I [big time heart] Marvel's Essentials collections. For under 20 United States dollars you can read tewnty-something issues of classic comics.

I also have Volume 5 of Fantastic Four waiting to be devoured, but that one will have to wait a while because sometime soon I'd like to read the World Is Flat, which I started, but didn't get very far on due to time constraints, and Team Of Rivals, which just sounds incredible. I'm also waiting to tackle the second book in Stephen King's Dark Tower saga, The Drawing of the Three. Ah, summer, why can't you last forever?


Nothing Like A "Best Of" List To Start an Argument...

Okay, so I was listening to last week's All Songs Considered podcast the other day and they were debating Paste magazine's list of the top 100 living songwriters. The list itself is a great conversation-starter and the podcast dissecting it was kind of interesting, although I kept getting the feeling that my dad would have enjoyed it a lot more than I did, as the tastes of the hosts were a little, uh, "older" than mine.

I thought it might be fun to look at at the list here, right here, and dissect it. Now, keep in mind that Paste's list is in no way perfect, nor are my comments or opinions. I will admit up front that my comments are completely subjective and probably not "Rock Critic" correct, (or "Bob Todd's Son" correct...sorry, dad) but they will be "My Gut" correct. For example, on this list, Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan are listed before the beloved Sir Paul McCartney. Blasphemy?! Maybe. Like I said, this list is not only imoerfect, but I think it's fluid and totally personal. Tom Waits' songs (at least in comparison to Sir Paul's later solo output) speak more to me as a person, as an artist, than Mr. Mac's stuff sometimes does.

Quick note: In this post, when I refer to someone who should be further "up" or "down" the list, I mean physically. Basically, it's opposite what you'd think it it. "Up" means higher #'d, "down," lower. just so we're on the same page.

Anyway, let's get to the list. Here goes:

100. T Bone Burnett
Uh, T. Bone Burnett? I know the guy's a heckuva producer, but a songwriter? Uh, okay. Who knew? Not me, obviously. Seriously though, the guy's obviously a songwriter, as he just released a new album which prompted his company to release a "best of" album, but he's not one of the first 200 peopel I think of when you say "great songwriter," let alone top 100. Oh well.

99. Andre Benjamin & Antwan Patton (Outkast)
Outkast is an interesting choice. I don't know that they have the body of work that any of these other artists do, but they've taken hip-hop ( and pop music) in an interesting direction, so sure.

98. Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo)
Jay Farrar's post-Uncle Tupelo stuff has never really done a whole lot for me. Trace was decent, Straightaways a little bring and Wide-Swing Tremolo is pretty good, but he just got really boring for me.

97. Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter's still an unknown to me despite owning two of his albums. We were listening to his latest, the Animal Yearsthe pther day and Candace summed it up when she said "How does Ryan Adams take this and make it good?" To which I responded, "I have no idea."

96. Jimmy Cliff
I've never gotten into Jimmy Cliff (yet) so no comment there.

95. Patti Smith
It's nice to see Patti Smith somewhere on the list, but personally, I'd rank her higher. Not that I'm a super huge fan or anything, but the lady can write a song.

94. Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips, if it's who I'm thinking of, does nothing for me. One of those standard songwriters that is so innocuous that I think I might be mixing her up with Patti Griffith.

93. Joseph Arthur
Who the heck is Joseph Arthur?

92. Alejandro Escovedo
I need to get me some Alejandro Escovedo, just to see what he's like, as I keep hearing his name.

91. Drive By Truckers (Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Jason Isbell)
Drive-By Truckers seem to be having a good year, as their latest album's all over the place. Maybe I'll have to check them out.

90. Nick Cave
Nick Cave's one of those artists that I really want to like, but haven't been able to really get all that in to.

89. Victoria Williams
If I learned anything from the Sweet Relief tribute album, it's that Victoria Williams is someone that, despite being able to write a song, does very little for me.

88. Parliament (George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell)
P-Funk rules. "Makes my funk the P-Funk/I wants to get funked up." That's songwriting, folks.

87. Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett's a good choice and probably works well this far down the list. He's good, but I can't listen to him all day, every day.

86. Sam Beam (Iron & Wine)
Sam Beam always impresses me. I have this feeling that Iron & Wine will be one of "the" bands of the late 00's.

85. David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones)
David Bazan's one of those artists who mistakes misery for depth, though he can turn a phrase now and then. The song, "Arizona," on Achilles Heel is a really good song.

84. John Linnel & John Flansburgh (They Might Be Giants)
Anyone who can write songs with titles like "Kiss Me, Son of God," or "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head," or "Hopeless Bleak Despair," deserves to be somewhere on this list. Also, the song, "Thunderbird" from their latest, the Spine is genius.

83. Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie)
Fleetwood Mac, uh, no thanks. I have heard that their earlier work is really good, but Stevie Nicks is so... yuck. She sings like a goat in heat.

82. John Darnielle (Mountain Goats)

81. Wayne Coyne & Steven Drozd (Flaming Lips)
Flaming Lips are one of my most favoritest bands ever. They deserve the top 10 if only for The Soft Bulletin.

80. Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason)
When will I find the time to get into Pink Floyd? Also, Syd Barrett died. For whatever reason, I was sort of sad. Anyway.

79. Stephen Malkmus (Pavement, Silver Jews)
Interesting that Malkmus and Pollard are right next to each other as they spent a goodly portion of the 90's mentioned in the same breath. Malkmus newest album is, after seven months of letting it sink in, quite good. Also, a large part of who I am is because of the music of Pavement, so... top 25 at least.

78. Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices)
Bob Pollard is a solid gold pop song machine and should be top 10. Have you heard "Pop Zeus?" Seriously, it's on one of his throwaway albums from his Fading Captain series and its one of my favorite songs of all time. Download it now and then tell me I am talking crazy talk when I say that he is a solid gold pop song machine. Also, the entirety ofBee Thousand?!

77. Bruce Cockburn
My dad's always said that I'd really like Bruce Cockburn.

76. Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Palace Music, etc.)
I need to get me some Will Oldham. Anybody who refers to himself as Bonnie "prince" Billy deserves a listen.

75. Ron Sexsmith
Ron Sexsmith's decent, but definitely not better than anybody that's been listed so far. Further up the list, maybe. Switch him out with TMBG and we'll call it good.

74. Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist (Over the Rhine)
Haven't heard Over the Rhine, though their CD is sitting in my BMG music club shopping cart, waiting for me to win the lottery.

73. Julie Miller
Julie Miller? Barney's daughter?

72. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, though only #72 on this list made it into the top three on Time's "World's Creeepiest People," list, right after that guy who sells knives on the original Willy Wonka and Coach Kostadelos, my high school driver's ed teacher who had a glass eye.

71. Vic Chesnutt
Vic Chesnutt's another one I've been meaning to check out. His duet with Michael Stipe on the End of Violencesoundtrack is incredible.

70. Alex Chilton (Big Star, The Box Tops)
I owned a Big Star cassette, Third/Sister Lovers. I no longer own it, so obviously my opinion of Alex Chilton's a bit tainted. I hear their first album kills, though.

69. Merle Haggard
One day I will check him out. Tom Waits praises hi to high heaven, so what am I waiting for?

68. Allen Tousaint
Wasn't he an Impressionist painter?

67. Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
I loathe Bright Eyes. Sorry. I've tried, but I just can't appreciate him on any level. I can understand the appeal, but it just isn't there. I was born without that part that makes you appreciate him.

66. Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black, Black Francis) (Pixies)
Frank Black's first two solo albums will rock your world. His Pixies stuff is classic. Top 25.

65. Bill Mallonee (Vigilantes of Love)
Bill Mallonee haas a lottt oof doubbllee letterrrs innn his naameeee. Also, Vigilantes of Love had an album that was in the Sunrise library Cd section that I would see everytime I was searching for something new to pirate (I wore an eyepatch and everythingwhen I'd go 'a-piratin').

64. Andy Partridge (XTC, Dukes of Stratosphear)
XTC doesn't do it for me.

63. Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention)
I've always felt like I should like Richard Thompson, but, I dunno.

62. Sting (The Police)
Okay, Sting, or the Police? Because, in my opinion, those are two separate people. Police Sting - decent stuff. After that, he was replaced with a Life Model Decoy or something because Post-Police Sting is, in my not-so-humble opinion, unlistenable minivan music that is noxious to your brains and causes cancer. Much like the music of Bryan Adams.

61. John Hiatt
John Hiatt is one of thise guys my dad loves that, really, I can live without.

60. Jimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb... Oh, I got nothing.

59. Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs)
Jack White deserves to be rated lower on the list. He's an amazing performer and a brilliant songwriter and he is cool. Like actually cool.

58. Sly Stone (Sly & the Family Stone)
Sly Stone is still alive? Seriously though, he's left a legacy of amazing songs.

57. Morrissey (The Smiths)
Morrissey should be a lot higher on this list. The Smiths are okay and all, but I've never held a lot of love for Mister Mopey Himself.

56. James Brown
James Brown is top 10 material if anyone on this list is. And I will fistfight anyone who says differently.

55. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton's got really big...hair. What did you think I was going to say?

54. Aimee Mann
I dont't know what the big fuss is about Aimee Mann. Also, she is like 7 feet tall.

53. James Taylor
I've always had an affinity for James Taylor. I don't Love love love the man, but his music has always resonated with me.

52. Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)
Paul Westerberg is top 20. Seriously, listen to Stereo/Mono and tell me I'm wrong.

51. Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham
Okay, quick clarification: Is it Oldham that doesn't talk in Penn & Oldham, or is he the guy with the ponytail?

50. Public Enemy (Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, et al)
Public Enemy. Uh, okay. I have no point of reference besides the antics of "FLAVE-OrrFLAVE!" on the Surreal Life, so I will shut up now.

49. Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens was amazing. Also, he's rated higher on the list than Sufjan Stevens? Wha?

48. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
My only exposure to Gillian Welch and David Rwalings is Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker album. I tried to get into one of her albums after falling deeply in love with that record, but it's a little too twangy for little old me.

47. Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is an enigma to me, I'm trying to suss out what the big deal is. I was listening to Illinois last night trying to figure out what the big deal is. Still nothing. Maybe tomorrow. It's not that he's bad, it's just that he's not that good.

46. David Byrne (Talking Heads)
David Byrne is my rock and roll hero. I'd rank him in the top 10 easily.

45. Jackson Browne
I should probably just say that I love Jackson Browne and head off any argumant with my dad. He's okay. I really haven't invested the time to really appreciate his work, though it still resonates with me on some level.

44. Al Green
Al Green's okay. I have a Best Of album and I have trouble telling the tracks apart.

43. Ryan Adams (Whiskeytown)
Ryan Adams has a special place in my heart. Top 10 all the way.

42. Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn. I have nothing to say other than that she owns a haunted plantation. that, and I really want to hear the album of hers that Jack White produced.

41. Ray Davies (The Kinks)
Still waiting to find time to fully appreciate the Kinks.

40. Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Bacharach & David, Attorneys at Law. But seriously, folks, they're untouchable.

39. Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham)
Okay, so this brings up an interesting point that I've kind of stumbled over on this list. When you say "songwriter," I think, "singer-songwriter." I guess if you say, "people who write songs that are enjoyable," it opens it up a little because "Squeeze my lemon 'till the juice runs down my leg," is not something profound or at all intelligent for that matter, but, when take in context, it works, somehow.

38. Kris Kristofferson
Is a grizzled old man.

37. Smokey Robinson
Smokey's cool. He's a legend, so there's nothing to really say about him. Also, only you can prevent forest fires and I know that's a cheap joke but I am a sad sad man so leave me alone.

36. Beck Hansen
Dude, this guy is something else. I always seem to forget how amazing he can be and then I hear something come up on shuffle and you're reminded that he is really talented and "real." Also, he's a Scientologist, which is weird to think too much about because I'm kind of half-waiting for him to jusy go crazy one of these days and not in a good way.

35. Steve Earle
he's a heckuva songwriter. He's gotten a bit shrill, politically, lately, but he's still an amazing songwriter.

34. John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Was not born on the bayou, despit what he tells you. Let's be honest though, he really should be up higher on this list. he's been writing the same songs for forty years now. Don't get me wrong, it's a good song, but still... #34?

33. Pete Townshend (The Who)
He's a great songwriter whose best years are light years behind him. It's sad to see people like him who just lost it somewhere along the line. Still Quadrophenia is a landmark in my life and their early stuff is great, classic stuff. Tommy has never impressed me much, but he's a talent, to be sure.

32. Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
Leiber & Stoller. Attorneys at Law. Did I already use that one? Dang.

31. Carole King
She did the theme song for Gilmore Girls. What else do you want?

30. John Prine
Another one of those guys that my dad loves that I can just live without. Then again, maybe I'm just waiting for the right song at the right moment.

29. Tom Petty
He's one of those guys that, in my book, is good, but not really great, y'know? He's kind of like, I don't know, Titian? He's a great colorist and all, but he's nothing special when you hold him up next to Michaelangelo or Leonardo. Am I making sense?

28. Robbie Robertson (The Band)
I [heart] the Band. There was a period when I was all about them and their first two albums are pure gold. Also, he's probably one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Period. "Clapton," who?

27. Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway)
Swap them out for the Flaming Lips. I don't know why there's such an either/or proposition in my mind between those two bands, but for whatever reason there is. They're okay and all, but they seem so (shoot what's the word I used on the phone when I was talking this over with Bryan...oh yeah...) bleak. I prefer a ray of hope somewhere, but I will admit that their first three albums are really good. They lose me with Kid A to be honest.

26. R.E.M. (Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe)
One of my favorite bands of all time, though their last album was a bit lacklustre. A great catalog of work, though and one of the reasons I am who I am. Top 10. (What am I up to now, like 12 in my top 10 already?)

25. Chuck Berry
Top 10? Maybe not, but he is one of the kings of rock and roll to be sure. Which reminds me: where the heck is Little Richard on this list? It's criminal. Both of them would split slot #15 on my list.

24. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Golden Smog, Loose Fur, etc.)
Just outside the top 10 on "my" list. If you can dispense a truth like, "You've got to learn how to die if you want to stay alive," inside a pop song, you have my respect forever. Another group that, 20 years from now, will define the turn of the millennium for me. One of the few "artists," right now in a field overrun with craftsmen.

23. Elton John & Bernie Taupin
Yeah, that looks right. Great but not that great. The John/Taupin partnership is deservedly admired.

22. Lucinda Williams
She's okay, but #22? Swap her out for Patti Smith.

21. Lou Reed (Velvet Underground)
Yeah, that's about right.

20. Van Morrison
Again, the list's starting to look pretty right. Astral Weeks is amazing.

19. Patty Griffin
Stewie's sister? Another one of those songwriters that critice wet themselves over that really are a mystery to me. Swap her for Malkmus.

18. U2 (Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton)
Yeah, maybe a little higher. #25 maybe. Up until Pop I would have believed that they were the best band on earth. Now, not so much. they're still great, but... I dunno. It seems like they lost momentum around that album that they've never quite made up.

17. Holland-Dozier-Holland
Attorneys at Law. Getting old yet?

16. David Bowie
Yeah, that looks right. He's someone who've I've grown to appreciate ove rthe last few years. I still want to get more into his catalog, especially his work with Brian Eno, who is incredible. Dang lottery!

15. Willie Nelson
Is a great songwriter and a dirty old man. I always imagine him as being sort of smelly, sort of randy. The kind of guy you hang out with but never invite for a sleepover. Anyway.

14. Stevie Wonder
Stevie's one of those artists that I appreciate the heck out of, but just don't click with.

13. Paul Simon
Yeah. He's a classic.

12. Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
Fossils, I mean, classics. I don;t think they're that great, but somewhere between 10 and 20 is about right for them. It's god rock and roll, butit doesn't touch me like a Paul Simon song or a Willie Nelson, for that matter.

11. Randy Newman
A great songwriter, but not #11. Sorry, Randy, but you know it's true. Somewhere between 25 and 30 maybe.

The Top 10
10. Prince
See #14, above. Another one that I admire but just don't click with. Except for "Purple Rain." That song is just amazing. Seriously, it's a perfect song.

9. Joni Mitchell
In a perfectw world, she's be in my top 10. But this isn't a perfect world and she isn't. Somewhere between 10 and 20 for sure, but I have never connected with her as much as I should have.

8. Elvis Costello
He's a great songwriter, but, as the kids say, "He's not all that and a bag of chips." He's not in my top 10.

7. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)
My #2 slot, maybe? Seriously, he's one of my favorites

6. Leonard Cohen
I [heart] Leonard Cohen. Big hearts. His later work pales in comparison to songs from, well, Songs or, uh Songs From A Room, but those two albums alone cement his place in my top 10.

5. Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
He's so good it's hard to say anything about him. Initially I though that it was understandable that he was higher up than tom Waits, but I'm not so sure anymore. He's still amazing. He's almost consistently amazing. Which is why it looks so much worse when they do something that's a bit mundane. The contrast with their amazing stuff makes it look that much worse, despite the fact that it might probably be better than others' good work. Does that make any sense?

4. Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan
One of my favorites. When I heard Bone Machine, it totally changed me. It was loud, obnoxious and weird. And I loved it. I know that it's not for everybody, but I really love his dirty, bluesy, clangy stuff just as much as I love a beautiful song like, "Hold On." I think you appreciate the one more because of the other and they help each other to exist, if that makes sense.

3. Bruce Springsteen
He'd be just outside my top 10. I've not had a really personal experience with his music like other people I know, so that counts him out. He's great and all, but just not "all that" for me.

2. Neil Young (Buffalo Sprinfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Just outside my top 10 as well. #11, maybe. After the Gold Rush, as an album, is a perfect album, not a single misstep. I just wish he were more consistent (look who's talking... I have Bob "Out of 30 tracks on a CD, 8 of them are annoying, 10 are solid, 7 or them are really good and 5 are brilliant," Pollard in my top 10... Still those 5...)

1. Bob Dylan
Yeah, it's obvious, I know, but the guy's still got it. He's like 125 years old, but he sings these songs like he's only 85! Seriously though, he's the king. And I'm not saying that because he's named after me. Or vice versa... It's hard to remember. Anyway, it's so obvious, but so true, so with no recourse but to concur, I'll agree and we'll be done with this travesty.

Okay, so what, you may ask, is my Top 10? Here goes (in no order because I can't rate tham even if I tried. Also I'm probably forgettig someone, but leave a comment, for crying out loud!):
Bob Dylan
Brian Wilson
Tom Waits
Bob Pollard
James Brown
David Byrne
Flaming Lips
Leonard Cohen

So, I showed you mine. What's yours?

Okay, It Looks Like I've Been Slacking, But...

Honestly, I haven't. I did Post-A-Day week and then started on the herculean task of commenting on Paste Magazine's "100 Greatest Living Songwriters," list, which is still being drafted. It's a doozy of a list and I will try to get it done in teh next coule of days.

Until then, here's a scan of one of my favorite scenes from a comic book ever. I had it in a Marvel Age issue back in the day, where they'd reprint and condense stories from the golden age of the Marvel Age. The FF had lost their powers and Doc Doom had decided to extract his revenge. He takes over the Baxter Building and Reed has to make a choice, turn Ben back into the Thing or let Doom win. I love the Fantastic Four, and I especially love the Kirby/Lee FF (Morrison's Fantastic Four: 1234 is amazing as well, but Kirby/Lee is the real, uh, thing). I love the Thing. I love this sequence. Immediately after this, Ben goes ape**** on Doom, crushing his hands inside their armor and almost killing him because, well, his humanity was taken from him because Doom's a sad little man. Anyway, amazing stuff. I promise that I'll get that list posted - Scout's Honor.


Your Boyfriend!

Your Boyfriend! Okay, so if you've never played "Your Boyfriend," here's the rundown: Basically, you find some sad person and tell a girl that that is her boyfriend. This is done by saying, "Hey, isn't that your boyfriend?" It is fun. Todays boyfriend: Skeeter.

Skeeter's 27. He enjoys dirt-biking, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Precious Moments figurines. Quote: "Hey. Wanna get wasted?"


I Have A Headache

But I took three ibuprofen, so it's slowly retreating. Anyway, so it's a fairly quiet night here at the homestead. I'm trying to get a Gmail account because I hate our current provider (pop-ups, spam up the wazzoo), so if anybody wants to help a brother out, that'd be great.

In other news...well, there is no othe rnews. I'm going to go sit down and talk to my lady.

Till next time.


Summer Sun

Some stuff I've been all loving up on lately:
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 3 (So much goodness)
All-Star Superman Issue #4 (I want to Jimmy Olsen's hair)
The mix I'm cooking up for Chris (tentatively titled "Five Stars of Fury!")
The newest version of Pride & Prejudice (which I enjoyed far too much)
Nextwave (this comic will kick your privates repeatedly and you will like it!)
Everything Bad Is Good For You (How pop culture makes us smarter)
The fact I got two (count 'em, two!) issues of Communication Arts and my French Paper swatch books in the mail yesterday
The entire Pavement catalog, especially Wowee Zowee
And, last but not least...
My ladies.

And post-a-day week rolls on...


The Geek Gene

Okay, so I downloaded the new Spider-Man 3 trailer (you can download it for yourself here - Sandman! Black costume! Uh... Topher Grace? Trust me, you won't be sorry) for my iPod the other day, cuz, you know, I'm a nerd like that.

Well later that day, Sadie was driving Candace crazy so I thought, well, I'll show her the trailer. I mean, it's a little movie on a cool little screen, she'll eat it up.

Well she did.

In fact, immediately after watching it, she took off her headphones and started yelling about "Bahduhmahn."

Now you've got to trust me when I tell you that I don't have superhero flash cards that I run her through nightly ("Sorry, Sadie, no treat for you. That was Elongated Man, not Mister Fantastic. Yeah, I know, they both stretch, but..."), so I have no clue how she knew Spider-Man's name. Seriously. I haven't even read a Spider-Man comic since before she was born (Spider totem? Come on, Marvel).

I'm wondering if there's a "Geek Gene," that I've somehow got transferred to her. I mean, will I wake up one day to find her engrossed in the Star Wars trilogy (the O.G. one, boyee! Hey, I'm so old I remember when Greedo didn't shoot first. I'm also so old that I remember when Weezer didn't suck, but that's another post entirely...), or catch her sneaking my X-Men comics? Until then I can only hope that someone will discover a cure because the last thing the world needs is more geeks.

We're a territorial kind.


Happy Birthday, USA!

No taxation without representation, fool! Now let's celebrate by cooking up some cow and blowing stuff up!

Have a Safe & Sane Fourth, people. Try not to blow any fingers off. And if you live in some Communist country, like say, Colorado, that denies you your God-given right to blow stuff up, fight the power and light a sparkler or a Whistlin' Pete in defense of freedom. It's what Thomas Jefferson would do.


That Summer Feeling

I am tired because I went to work today and worked my butt off and now I am tired. But still, I will post. 'Cuz I'm an O.G. like that.

Anyway, so I'm sitting here as the sun goes down on another summer day. I've got the Lemonheads Come On Feel playing, which, for some reason I felt like breaking out. It's a really good album, despite the presence of a couple non-essential tracks (the "Rick James Style" version of "Style," and the "Jello Fund," - the obligatory "hidden track full of gibberish," why, 90's, why?). Nonetheless, this is one of the "minor summer album," shuffle pack I put together the other morning. In fact, let's run them down: In the #1 slot on my CD player: the Lemonheads, Come On Feel The Lemonheads.

Slot #2: Pavement, Brighten The Corners.

Slot the Third: Spoon, Kill The Moonlight.

Fourth Slot: Papas Fritas, Helioself.

Fifth & Final Slot: Wilco, Summerteeth.

In no way an essential list, but still a good mix of stuff to keep your summer rolling. What is it about summer that's so dang alluring? For some reason, you say the word and I'm all a-quiver, like I'm going to get out of school for three months or something. Even growing up in the blazing furnace of Las Vegas, I still get all nostalgic for bike rides, swimming pools, baseball cards and sleep-overs.

Oh man, I just thought of something. You know how there are things that have no names, but should? Like, I dunno "the spirit of the staircase," or something? There should be a name for that feeling in your hip when you wake up on your friends floor after a sleep-over - that dull ache on whatever side you slept on with just a blanket or two between you and the ground. It's some kind of sacrifice, that dull ache in trade for a night talking about nothing until you pass out contented with the TV on playing some dumb movie (RunningMan! Leviathan! Predator!), or the radio humming to itself in the midnight.

A dull ache in your hip in exchange for friendship. I'd say that's a fair trade.


Summer Here Kids

Gauntlet Throwin' Time!

A post a day. For - at least - the next week. Can it be done? Maybe. in any case, I'm going to try my dangdest to post something every day and I challenge everyone in my blog vicinity to do the same. The gauntlet, my pretties, has been thrown:


Bill Haverchuck Rules

We just finished watching the completes series of Freaks & Geeks on DVD. A great little show. Imagine That 70's Show with a heart instead of a bunch of one-liners or The Wonder Years without the decrepit reek of nostalgia. My favorite character is this guy, Bill Haverchuck.

He rules. Rent the six-disc collection. It's definitely worth the time.

Okay, so I lost the first draft of this post...

So I'll cut the crap. I was looking through some old cassete tapes that Sadie had found and came across this baby:

Remember this one, Ryan? First off, mixtapes are golden. I have this box full of ones I made for Candace when I was wooing her (she says I was showing off my "skills," - but my mixtape skills are legend) and some I received from other people. As much fun as making mixes for other people is (I posted my track listing for Ryan's Computer Rock mix and I just finished a monster one for Chris - Chris, if somehow you're reading this, we're putting together a package) there's nothing like a mix from another person. It's a peek into their tastes and a chance to share it with others. It's like ordering blindly off of a mexican restaurant's menu - you never know what you're getting, but you know it'll be good.

Let's look at this beauty, though. First off, the title's brilliant. If you're not from Vegas, "An Evening at La Cage," was a show full of drag queens who looked (nothing) like famous ladies. Was it Frank Marino that was the "star?" Anyway. Hilarious. But what about the rest of the tape? Well, just check out the titles for side a:

And side b?:

How could I not have this guy as one of my best friends on earth? Anyway, I popped it in last night and suddenly, it was 1994, only 200% less awkward and confusing. The Who, the Doors, STP, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Beatles, Floyd. It's just so classic and so Ryan and I'm honored that he shared it with me. It's an amazing mix. So, to the Castlerocker, cheers mate. You're a champ.

One Night I Couldn't Sleep...

So I got up, read my comics, put my iPod on and started playing Dr. Mario. There I was, almost 30 years old, reading comics and playing video games while rocking out in the middle of the night (well, okay, the middle of the night for me) while my beautiful wife and daughter slept peacefully in the other rooms of my cool little apartment.

It was sometime before midnight that I realized that if you had asked me fifteen years ago what I'd be doing when I was 30, I probably would have given you a similar sketch of my posible future life: playing Nintendo, rocking out, reading comics. So, either I've fulfilled my dreams and "kept it real," all these years...

Or I'm just a big 14-year-old. You decide.